Focus on for more persons with disabilities on farm work programmes Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Discussions focusing on integrating more persons with disabilities in the overseas farm-work programme, among other areas, are continuing, says Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles Jr.

Two such individuals have already been recruited and are now making preparations to depart Jamaica.

Charles said the ministry is actively striving to increase the number of participants so that more persons will be able to access overseas employment opportunities.

“I made a commitment to ensure that persons with disabilities are integrated into as many programmes as possible. One of the programmes that I thought would be practical for them is our farm work programme, the overseas employment programme. We have taken the time to reach out to employers and stakeholders, and they have embraced and welcomed the concept,” he said.

“I am expecting that the impact from this will be, not only the increased opportunities for persons with disabilities, but just showing persons that the fact that you are saddled with the challenge doesn’t mean that you can’t also excel; and it definitely doesn’t mean that you also won’t get the opportunities.

“I’m looking forward to this being a positive for persons with disabilities, (and) a positive for the employers because they are going to work very hard, and (that’s) a positive for Jamaica,” said Charles.

He provided the update during the closing-out ceremony for the Strategic Engagement of Rural Women with Disabilities in Sustainable Farming Techniques Project at the Abilities Foundation in St Andrew on Tuesday, February 27.

The Abilities Foundation and Canada Fund for Local Initiatives partnered to execute the project.

The 25 persons who participated in the second batch of the sustainable farming project received certificates and starter kits during the ceremony. They hail from the parishes of Clarendon, St Elizabeth, Manchester, St Ann and St Catherine.

A total of $5.7 million has been invested in the initiative, and approximately 50 persons have been trained and had their lives positively transformed.

Charles urged them to utilise their training, not just for personal gains, “(but) we expect that you will bring innovation, value to your community and to the agricultural sector in Jamaica”.

He also assured them that they have the Government’s full support, stating that every avenue for employment is open to them and all persons with disabilities.

“We have taken concrete steps to expand the ministry in terms of our inclusivity programme,” Charles added.

He also thanked the Canadian Government for its funding and commitment to the project.

Canada’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, Emina Tudakovic, said partnership is one of the key principles of success for any initiative.

“Today is really the demonstration of the results of this partnership. The Canada Fund is about making these small local contributions that achieve a big local impact,” she stated.

Abilities Foundation Managing Director, Susan Hamilton, said the 25 women represented the second group to be trained in climate-smart technologies, and trained and coached in advocacy skills and business development, among other areas.

Beneficiary Delpharine Wilkie said the programme has given them another chance to excel.

“I have learnt a lot, and I will put all that I have learnt to expand my knowledge in farming. This programme has encouraged me, and I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this programme of empowering women with disabilities,” she said.

Wilkie further indicated that she has found a community of support through the programme.